Thimphu Thromde City Bus Services began testing the Global Positioning System (GPS) and audio notifications on its new buses last week.
The thromde added 27 new buses to its fleet on August 29. The buses should improve and improve the public transport service in the thromde. City Bus Services now has 68 buses.
To improve and reorganize the current modality of urban bus services, the Thimphu Thromde Geographic Information System (GIS) team mapped the new routes, bus stops and terminals identified through GIS-based street mapping. .
The management of City Bus Services will introduce a smart card system and an application called Gakyid Ride.
City Bus Service director Sangay Dorji said the new buses would unveil in November. “During the test over the next two months, we want to make sure that the new buses are working perfectly. “
He said the new buses were disabled friendly as they have wheelchair ramps and an audio message system in Dzongkha, which would help blind people know which stop they were going to.
“A person coming to Thimphu for the first time will also know the bus stops through the audio notification,” he said.
Sangay Dorji said that in the study’s first implementation phase, a national road from Babesa to Pangrizampa in northern Thimphu would be implemented where every 10 minutes a bus would reach a bus stop. Some subsidiary routes would also be put in place.
About ten subsidiary roads have been identified in places which are not connected by main roads. Sangay Dorji said that the new subsidiary routes introduced in the first phase included Kuensel Phodrang, Royal Thimphu College (RTC) and Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School.
He said that according to the study by the GIS team, around 100 buses would be needed. “We cannot execute the whole plan all at once and it will be implemented in phases.”
Sangay Dorji said the old city buses will be returned gradually and new city buses equipped with smart card systems will be purchased and GPS will be installed in the buses.
The GIS team also identified a bus terminal each at Dangrina in northern Thimphu and the RTC area in southern Thimphu and the city bus service office in the center. Sangay Dorji said that gradually, time would be saved as the buses would not have to follow circular routes as they do today.
The city’s bus services plan to provide smart cards of four categories which would be introduced at preferential prices for the disabled, students and the elderly.
City bus fares range from Nu 10 and Nu 50. People with disabilities, students and the elderly will benefit from a reduction of 20%, 30% and 10%, respectively.
Sangay Dorji said they are trying to keep the price of smart cards below Nu 75. He said the smart card was introduced to prevent revenue leakage and promote digital transactions.
For occasional users, temporary cards that would cost double the amount would be provided to encourage people to buy smart cards.
City Bus Services is also considering purchasing the Gakyid Ride app with support from UNDP.
He said the mobile app was developed by two young developers to track buses by GPS. For example, he said, we only need to enter the bus stop and the app will show where the bus is coming from and what time.
“Our city bus services will become more reliable with the mobile app. “
With the purchase of the 27 buses, 30 driver positions were announced. Only 19 candidates were shortlisted because it was difficult to obtain bus drivers in accordance with the requirements of the Road and Transport Safety Regulation (RSTA), which requires three years experience in heavy vehicles.
He said management has proposed to remove the three-year experience requirement and allow candidates to be trained in heavy vehicle training institutes. “The RSTA accepted our request.
Sangay Dorji said that a person must graduate from Class 10 to be a city bus driver. He said that together with the Ministry of Labor, 15 people from the first group are expected to undergo a six-month training course. “An introductory refresher course on Bhutanese codes of conduct and etiquette (driglam namzha), communication skills and how to help people with disabilities will be taught to drivers. “
Edited by Tshering Palden